Leadership is key to moving partnerships and collaborative actions forward

The Forum on Responsible Business in Jakarta was once again a huge success. The annual gathering brought together experts, leaders, and changemakers working in the fields of sustainability and development with the objective to advance discussions on collaborative approaches to improving Asia’s food security future. There was a great energy amongst participants and ample time to network and connect: ‘collaboration’ and ‘partnership’ were the buzzwords that echoed throughout the two-day event. As I listened to the many panel discussions and keynote speeches, it became clear that everyone was aware that change can only be achieved together: no man is an island. Shared goals, shared agendas, and combining forces for end-to-end solutions – these were themes that were heard from both public and private sector representatives.

A panelist succinctly summarised the urgent need for progressing multi-stakeholder relationships: “It is easy to talk about partnership, but we need to talk about how we are going to do it and implement the changes needed [sic].” There was also a common agreement that to move the needle on responsible businesses, organisations need to show gumption right at the very top. To quote a speaker, we need to “take CSR out of Corporate Affairs and into the Boardroom”. Boardroom decision-makers have the opportunity to make positive impact both within and beyond their company. By taking the lead, influencing both internal and external stakeholders, they can effectively shift the ground within the private sector and set a new model for more inclusive and responsible business practices. We as communicators are in a privileged position. Our jobs grant us a helicopter view of what goes on both within the community and within the organisation. In this regard, we are best placed to not only manage and facilitate stakeholder collaborations, but also advise leadership teams in leading the charge for CSR, in how it is viewed, implemented and integrated within the organisation. It is also our job to advise and counsel leadership teams on the benefits of “doing good”, or “doing right” from a reputation standpoint. A corporation’s reputation hinges on its actions; and while it is by no means tangible, corporate reputation is an asset that corporations can especially count on during a crisis should one ever take place. At Spurwing Communications, my colleagues and I work with a number of leading organisations and multi-national companies, often with complex supply chains and numerous touchpoints, to help them understand and communicate the value of CSR to internal and external stakeholders. I consider myself in a fortunate position to be working with organisations and companies that are champions of sustainable development and CSR, and are eager to do good. Together, we get to be the agents of change, transforming industries and, therefore, society.

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